Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Power of a Spontaneous Video

Co-teaching requires a fair amount of planning and cooperation in order to really work well but it also requires trust, respect and spontaneity. We had a moment in the classroom that really provided a great example of the last three. Mel was teaching a reading lesson. She was showing the class how she uses her chart to help her identify the social issues in Drums,Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, a book that we read as a read aloud. She had categorized social issues into three categories: individual, family, and community. As Mel began to model her thinking, I picked up her phone from her table and began taping her. This action had some unintended consequences in that most of the students listened a little harder than they may have otherwise (no one wants to be caught not paying attention on tape.) However, my spur of the moment video provided me a valuable teaching moment, as well.

Many times, when Mel tells students to turn and talk, some of our students struggle to develop meaningful conversations. A successful conversation pre-supposes that they are attending to not only the question, but also the lesson leading up to the question. After Mel finished her demonstration, I turned off the camera and listened in on two pairs of students. Mel had asked them what they noticed about how she had used her chart to push her thinking. I had to remind them of the question and then help them along with thinking stems and sentence starters. Even then, by the time they got their conversation started, Mel was calling the group back together.

When the mini-lesson ended, we still had over thirty minutes of reading time so I pulled the four students into a strategy group. I explained to them that we all have the potential to space out during a lesson and responsible learners develop strategies that help them focus. Together, we re-watched the two-minute demonstration that I had taped and I paused it a few times to have them jot down key observations they made. At the end, one of the students and I had a model turn and talk. Then, we all talked about how much easier it is to generate ideas and have a conversation if you have a few written bullets in front of you. My challenge to these students is to use this bulleting strategy during upcoming mini-lessons. I will be there to remind them and support them but my hope is that they begin to integrate this note-taking strategy to help them initiate and engage in more meaningful peer conversations.

When we teach together and have so much trust in each other, we have opportunities like the one we had today. I would not spontaneously video all of the teachers with students I service. However, I did reflect on how this practice could be implemented in other classrooms. As our classrooms become more and more technologically oriented, our access to videoing equipment certainly increases. We have students in our classroom who would be more than willing to video for us. If we knew that we were about to teach a ten minute mini-lesson of a skill we really want all students to understand, what if we did ask a student to hold a camera? Then, we have the opportunity after the lesson, when other students are doing their independent work, to incorporate the video into a strategy lesson and review session for struggling students. If anyone out there has other ideas or ways they have successfully taped lessons, please share them! We'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. I have a flip camera in my desk drawer "just in case" in want to use it and Mel, you just gave me an idea. I'm going to pull out the flip camera and ask certain students to video some lessons, with the goal of getting students to attend and increase their time on task. Sometimes teachers need to be sneaky, just like parents! Of course, there will be extensive interactive modeling before students are permitted to video a lesson.
    I did this a few weeks ago and played the tape back to my class. It was a powerful tool for teaching students the importance of reflecting upon their actions and how their behavior impacts the group.